Designing a restaurant floor plan is one of the most crucial parts of starting a restaurant. Your floor plan dictates how your restaurant operates, how it feels for guests, and what the customer experience will look like. If you don’t plan this carefully, it will have a significant effect on your business.
It’s easy just to start adding chairs and tables to your dining area without carefully thinking about how it will function. There are so many important details in the overall picture that you first need to map out. From your kitchen and dining room floor plan to your outdoor space, bar seating, counter space, and more, restaurant floor planning takes a lot into consideration.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to think about when putting together restaurant floor plans. This will help you make the most of your space and help your restaurant achieve greater success.
Six Key Considerations For Your Restaurant Floor Plan
1. Safety, Accessibility, and Compliance
First up, you want your restaurant to be a safe and accessible place for all your staff and patrons. As a result, these should be major factors in your floor plan.
For guidelines on how to provide appropriate wheelchair access across your venue, look to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Being compliant with their standards will mean you create a functional space that everyone can access.
From there, you need to ensure your restaurant plan follows the appropriate building codes to account for these accessibility and general safety requirements. This includes factoring in things like adding emergency exits in the right places, using the right lighting, and ensuring your restaurant meets the correct occupancy codes.
Finally, consider all of the smaller safety and compliance details. All the wires in your restaurant need to be taped down; light fixtures can’t be too low, and so on, depending on your local jurisdiction.
2. Floor Plan Efficiency
Whether designing a new restaurant or redesigning an existing one, you have to think about efficiency and practicality. Sure, your restaurant spaces need to look good. However, this isn’t enough for a fully functioning establishment. The most important thing is that every space in your restaurant works on a practical level.
Restaurants can be busy places, with a lot going on in each area. If you don’t consider the flow of the restaurant and how each space will work together, you could cause all kinds of issues. This includes delays and disruptions in service, safety issues, and problems with your customers' comfort and safety. When designing a restaurant, consider every process your restaurant does and organize the different floor areas to match this.
For example, keep tables away from high-traffic areas, server stations, or restrooms. Nobody wants to hear the sound of a flushing toilet while sitting down for their meal. If your restaurant has a delivery and pickup area, keep this away from the tables as well. The delivery drivers could disrupt your guests.
Include a designated entrance and waiting area near your host stand or outside the restaurant. You don’t want guests lingering around your seated diners waiting to be seated.
3. Consider Front and Back-End Efficiency
When thinking about your floor plan efficiency, one crucial area of consideration is creating harmony between your front-of-house and back-of-house. Both parts of the establishment cover very different functions, yet both need to operate seamlessly together for your restaurant to perform at its best.
Your restaurant layout needs to promote efficiency for these different areas. For example, deliveries for the kitchen should come through a dedicated kitchen back door delivery entrance.
You also need to think about how your servers can access the front and back swiftly. All areas of your restaurant need to be easily serviced. If a seating area is too far away from the kitchen, this could cause issues in the service delivery.
If this is the case, you might want to add an alternative route to the kitchen or implement a different system for notifying servers that orders are ready. Your goal is to ensure your guests have the best possible experience without sacrificing the overall efficiency of your restaurant.
4. Aesthetic and Ambiance
So far, we’ve covered a lot of practical and technical details about designing your restaurant floor plan. These are all important, but creating a restaurant space that looks and feels good for your customers is essential.
There’s a lot to consider when designing the aesthetic and ambiance of your restaurant. You might want to work with an experienced interior designer on this. Your goal is to provide a memorable customer experience, which is achieved through both the food and the environment. Use decorations and colors that match the mood your restaurant is trying to create.
Every decorative detail should be well thought out, reflecting your restaurant's concept and brand identity. This includes everything from the color you paint the walls to the type of glassware you use and the music you play. Candles, lighting, plants, tablecloths, and chair styles are all essential decorative details that can make a big difference to how your restaurant feels.
Will you be using round tables or square tables? You want your restaurant to look good, but you also need to maximize the number of seats you have to increase revenue. If you’re using round freestanding tables, remember they cannot be pushed together to create a larger table.
Consider your storage space too. You want to make the most of your floor plan, but you will still need an area to keep extra chairs and tables, umbrellas, or your guests’ large items. Restaurant interior designers will help you figure these things out.
Then consider your set fixtures and appliances. You can always move around your tables and chairs, but you can’t move your fridges, stove, service counters, and built-in booths. Be very careful where you position these items because they aren't moving once they’re in place.
5. The Guest Experience
All the above considerations should add together for one main concern: your guests’ experience. The whole reason you design your restaurant floor plan a certain way is to provide your guests with a welcoming, comfortable space. If they don’t have a good experience, your floor plan doesn’t make sense.
Think about the customer journey through your restaurant, from the moment they walk through your door to the moment they leave. Think about how they will be seated. How they will wait for their food, how they will pay for their bill, and how they will leave.
Your doors and windows make a difference to the way your guests “flow” through your venue. Make sure the space is easy to navigate and that there are no areas that could hold up guests.
Think about the guest's views while they are seated at different angles. Consider the temperature of different areas of your restaurant, and ensure each space offers a practical guest experience.
If you have outside seating, ensure you have a solution for rain and sun protection. If your restaurant is indoors, ensure your ventilation is up to standard.
6. The Key Areas of Your Restaurant
It’s important to understand that your restaurant is not a single space. Instead, it is a series of different areas that interconnect and work with each other.
This means you need to understand each space's importance and function and ensure that your floor plan is designed to match this. Here are a few considerations for the different spaces in your restaurant:
Location and Purpose
Each space has a unique purpose that should match where its located. For example, your bar should be positioned at the front of the restaurant as this typically serves as the waiting area for guests whose tables are not ready.
If you have private dining rooms, these are typically found off the side or at the back of the restaurant. Having a private bathroom for these areas is a plus.
Outdoor spaces are increasingly popular for restaurants. They can make an enormous difference to your revenue on sunny days. They also provide a welcome space for guests who are COVID-conscious. Making the most of outdoor seating can help attract more guests and add a new dimension to your restaurant.
There are various ways that you can design your restaurant kitchen. The main consideration is whether to have it open or closed. Both have their advantages.
Open kitchens add to the ambiance of the restaurants. They are engaging, add action and entertainment, and can be a big drawcard for guests.
However, open kitchens can also be noisy and distracting. Your kitchen style needs to match the concept and brand of your restaurant.
You also need to ensure your kitchen is spotlessly clean at all times if customers can look into it. Many fine dining restaurants keep the kitchen private to keep the dining areas quieter and more peaceful.
Will you offer co-ed or single-sex restrooms? This usually comes down to how much space your restaurant has available for restrooms.
You also need to consider what types of customers you are catering to.
Private Dining Rooms
Incorporating a private dining room into your restaurant can be a great idea. This offers a higher revenue stream that can help promote additional walk-in traffic.
Bar Area and Lounge Seating
Including casual bar and lounge seating has its perks. These spaces are great for happy hours and making money on shoulder times between each busy service. You just need to make sure that your menu and restaurant concept facilitate these areas if you choose to add them.
Tips for Improving Your Floor Plan
There’s a lot to consider when planning out your restaurant floor plan. If you design your restaurant around a flawed floor concept, it will have a direct impact on the success of your restaurant. It will also be expensive and time-consuming to fix.
The bottom line is that you need to plan your restaurant layout carefully to ensure each space is as successful as possible. Here are a few helpful tools and tips to ensure your restaurant floor plan is on the right track.
Use Design Software
Using design software to map out your restaurant floor plan is an excellent way to understand how your restaurant will look and function. Design software will help you play around with different layouts and interior ideas before settling on the final design.
The great thing about this software is that it lets you walk through what the restaurant would look like, giving you a good idea of what your guests would experience. This can help you avoid costly mistakes and ensure you meet all of the correct specifications and requirements for your restaurant floor plan. You can maximize the layout with minimal waste.
Work With a Consultant
You could also work with an experienced restaurant consultant who specializes in your area and concept. This is a great way to gain additional insight and knowledge when planning your establishment.
Consultants have worked with many different restaurants before, so they really know the ins and outs of planning a floor layout. This could help you realize many extra design elements and details that may have otherwise been left out in your floor plan.
Gather Real-World Inspiration
The best way to come up with a plan for your restaurant is to visit other venues and draw inspiration from them.
Try to visit as many restaurants and bars in your area as possible. See what they’re doing and notice things that work and don’t work. Consider your experience as a customer, and use this knowledge to optimize your own restaurant floor plan.
A great strategy is to start an inspiration folder of restaurant floor plan examples and feature ideas you like. You could create this in your phone gallery or create an inspiration board on Pinterest. This is a great way to discover new ideas and find better clarity on what exactly you want your restaurant to look like.
Think About How It Will All Work
When planning your different restaurant spaces, you need to think practically about how each space works and what is required in each space. You can’t just create a layout that you think looks good or feels right. There are many minor considerations that you will need to make when planning which spaces can go where.
For example, your kitchen will require an extraction system and plumbing. Your bathrooms will also require plumbing. So, you should keep your bathroom layout near your kitchen to make sharing the plumbing a lot easier. The extraction system will need to lead out somewhere, so you probably want to keep the kitchen area at the back of your restaurant to make this easier.
Think about how your service counter will work, where your POS stations will be located, where you will add electrical outlets, and how you will direct foot traffic away from diners. When planning your restaurant design, try to imagine yourself as a customer and envision what your experience would look like.
Understand Your Seating Capacity
It’s easy to get so caught up in how your restaurant floor plan will feel that you forget about what matters most for your business - making a profit. You have to carefully consider your seating capacity and how many seats you need to have available to turn a profit.
This should also include the capacity of your kitchen and how many people you can serve.
It’s vital that you get this right. Otherwise, you could end up with a restaurant with too many people that you aren’t able to service.
Alternatively, you could end up with a restaurant that doesn’t make ends meet because you aren’t able to seat enough customers with each service.
Start by understanding how many chairs you need, then plan your restaurant floor around this. Never squeeze too many customers in, though. Make sure your customers have ample space and elbow room at their tables.
You also need to think about how you will be able to accommodate large parties and intimate couples at the same time. The best dining room design is fluid. This allows you to change up your dining area to match the needs of each service.
Most restaurant floor plans are not properly executed. There’s a lot to fit into the physical space and many small details you need to make sure you cover. You have to adhere to local building codes, ensure your food prep areas and kitchen space planning are sufficient and provide your customers with the best possible dining experience.
Follow the points listed above when designing your restaurant to help you improve your restaurant’s efficiency and the overall experience that it provides.